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When Should the Church Close Its Doors? (3 of 10)
Series: Going through the Motions
Tonight, we continue our series through Malachi. A series I've entitled Going Through the Motions. We come to Malachi 1:6-14 where it becomes evident very quickly that's exactly what God's people are doing. They are going about their religious rituals but their hearts are not in it. READ TEXT
*Every year, approximately 7,000 churches close their doors for good. Listen to this haunting story by Thom Rainer: I was their church consultant in 2003. The church's peak attendance was 750 in 1975. By the time I got there the attendance had fallen to an average of 83. The large sanctuary seemed to swallow the relatively small crowd on Sunday morning. The reality was that most of the members did not want me there. They were not about to pay a consultant to tell them what was wrong with their church. Only when a benevolent member offered to foot my entire bill did the congregation grudgingly agree to retain me. I worked with the church for three weeks. The problems were obvious; the solutions were difficult. On my last day, the benefactor walked me to my rental car. ''What do you think, Thom?'' he asked. He could see the uncertainty in my expression, so he clarified. ''How long can our church survive?'' I paused for a moment, and then offered the bad news. ''I believe the church will close its doors in five years.'' I was wrong. This church lasted ten years after my terminal diagnosis. Together my friend and I reviewed the past ten years. I think we were able to piece together a fairly accurate autopsy. Here are eleven things I learned.
The church refused to look like the community. The community began a transition toward a lower socioeconomic class thirty years ago, but the church members had no desire to reach the new residents. The congregation thus became an island of middle-class members in a sea of lower-class residents.
The c ...
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